It appears to me there are many b2b sales people who are looking for a blueprint regarding what questions can I ask to uncover information. Since the decision making process is one of the most important piece of information to learn, I am providing a list of four good questions to ask.
Why is it important to understand the decision making process?
Because first you need to verify who will be making the decision. Second, you want to know about who could step in at the last minute and unravel all your previous hard work. And finally, how many people are going to be involved in the process. You may have to make more calls than you expected to insure a valuable decision.
Okay, so what are these four questions to ask? Here are my four favorites…
- In addition to Ms Smith (name of the known decision maker), who else is involved in making this important decision?
Knowing who is involved in the decision making process can give you insight into who has the most at stake in the decision process. This allows you to learn more about what they want and what they believe is important to their decision process. Then you can adjust your offering to meet their needs.
- In your opinion, who will be making the final recommendations?
I know – recommendations? – this is actually about knowing who is establishing the specifications for the decision. Getting involved with this person allows you time – and a possible advantage – in setting the stage for your product or service. Learn who this key person is early in the process and put your specifications into the mix.
- Who will be approving the recommendations leading up to the final decision?
The dominant buyer influence usually positions themselves in this power player – the one who approves the recommendations for the possible contract. It is a critical element to learn this person will be and then meet as often as possible to favorably influence their decision and influence.
- If someone has a major concern and could shoot down a decision at the last minute, who would that be?
This is your critical event knowledge factor. Who could step in and kill your deal? If you do not know who this person could be then it would come as a surprise rather than a speed bump on your approval track. Your objective is to learn who could be playing the role of the blocker or spoiler to the decision making process so you can meet with this person. When meeting with this person, it is your objective to learn about their major concerns. Then you can educate them on the true value of your solution and minimize the impact of their concerns. If you are unable to swing them to your point of view, then you will need to locate a higher ranking influence to counter their concerns in the decision making process.
The key throughout this questioning process is to be prepared and influence the probability of a favorable decision. When you do your job correctly, there will be few surprises regarding the final decision. The better you are at asking good questions, the more you will learn and the more you can influence and guide the true decision makers.
An additional key factor is to always work toward a win-win solution. When everybody wins, the process becomes repeatable and more predictable for future wins.